Stories about
David Harsanyi

The Daily Signal

Published  1 month ago

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of the forthcoming "First Freedom: A Ride through America's Enduring History With the Gun, From the Revolution to Today."

Rep. Ilhan Omar argues that American “democracy is built on debate,” tweeting, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” I’m sure no decent person disagrees with her comment. Also, every sane person understands this is merely a deflection from Omar’s many anti-Semitic comments.

No one asked her—or anyone else—to pledge allegiance to a foreign nation. It’s her belief that supporting the Jewish state, a longtime ideological and geopolitical ally of the United States, is an act of dual loyalty—either by Jews or by others who, as Omar might say, have been “hypnotized” to do “evil.” She is the one who accuses Jewish Americans, a group that has played a robust role in the nation’s civic life for a long time, of doing the bidding of a foreign power to the detriment of their own.

Just as no one is forcing Omar to take a position on Israel—much less pledge allegiance to it—no one is attacking her right to free speech. This isn’t Eritrea—a country Omar recently visited and was quite impressed by—where a dictatorship can arrest and torture citizens for taking unpopular positions. If Omar’s moral compass tells her to advocate for terrorists and theocrats, she’s free to do so. Americans are likewise free to point it out.

But Democrats’ draft measure condemning anti-Semitism is a useless and transparent attempt to distract from a serious problem of their own creation. The decree mentions Alfred Dreyfus, Leo Frank, Henry Ford, and “anti-Muslim bigotry”—because hey, even when Jews are being smeared, it’s about Islamophobia—but not once does it condemn Omar or the strain of hatred she is helping normalize on the left. The resolution, teeming with useless platitudes, is one that even Omar could probably support.

It’s also worth remembering that it was only after a handful of Jewish Democrats, such as Eliot Engel, objected to Omar’s comments that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to act—or rather, pretend to act.

Even now, a number of pundits on the left, including columnists for The Washington Post and The Atlantic, argue that Omar—as well as fellow anti-Semite Rep. Rashida Tlaib—operates within the parameters of acceptable debate. Omar could read portions of the Hamas Charter into the Congressional Record, and The New York Times would tell us her “latest remarks on Israel draw criticism.”

Another tactic taken up by Democrats is trolling for supposedly anti-Semitic comments by Republicans to deflect and dilute the attention on Omar. This week, Democrats found one such straw man when the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Jim Jordan, spelled liberal donor Tom Steyer’s name with a dollar sign in a tweet. Liberals across the media quickly took up the cause: “Gee whiz, what if Ilhan Omar had done this?!”

Well, if Omar had inserted a dollar sign into the name of a Jewish donor, considering her history, we’d have to assume she was clumsily trying to make another bigoted comment.

There’s absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about calling out Steyer—and other billionaires who spend millions every cycle helping political causes. Steyer, perhaps more than anyone, in fact, is known for advocating the impeachment of Donald Trump.

So when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler issued document requests from 81 people and organizations in a massive trolling investigation for “obstruction,” Jordan reacted as people in both political parties tend to do, by accusing the other party of being bought by big donors and special interests.

Moreover, Steyer grew up with a nonpracticing Jewish dad and became involved in the Episcopal Church when he was 40. I certainly had no idea that “$teyer” had any Jewish background. His surname isn’t Jewish. He’s not a supporter of Jewish causes. If anything, he’s been a longtime supporter of anti-Israel candidates and organizations.

But Democrats, who hear dog whistles at every mention of “globalist,” can’t get their ire up when one of their own drops tropes that date back to at least “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Congress, of course, really has no business setting guidelines for acceptable political speech. Pelosi does, however, have the power to name committee appointees. And with this power, she decided to place a doltish hater of Jews, someone with radical positions and absolutely no relevant experience, on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to appease the growing anti-Israel contingent in her party.

She did this knowing about Omar’s history of anti-Semitic tweets, radicalism, and support of Hamas. Last week, Pelosi was mugging on the cover of the celebratory issue of Rolling Stone with Omar and her bestie, apologist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. These, claims the magazine, are “women shaping the future.” If so, that will be Pelosi’s legacy.

Rolling Stone

Published  2 months ago

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker addresses members of the media from his office in Madison, Wisc., for the first time after failing to win re-election in the 2018 race.

John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal/AP

Three months have passed since that fleeting, anonymous New York Times op-ed from a Trump staffer claiming that she or he was busy trying to save us from the president’s agenda and “his worst inclinations.” The piece was largely useless, but it was entertaining. Conservatives who have remained silent about Republican disenfranchisement were inspired, in their own way, to defend voting rights.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Majority Leader, declared in a letter to the Times that the writer was “thwarting the wishes of the legitimately elected president from within the executive branch.” The Federalist’s David Harsanyi, a Libertarian, argued that the op-ed “celebrates the idea of nullifying an election.” Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s press secretary, wrote in his own op-ed that “if the American people don’t like what Donald Trump is doing, they can elect a Democratic House and-or Senate this fall,” adding that this is “how our system was meant to work and be responsive to the will of the people.”

There is often an inherent whiteness, maleness and heterosexuality associated with the term “people” when Republicans use the word. The party has only one demonstrated strategy for competing in a browning America: Whiten it, physically and electorally. Republican cheating has grown so pervasive that we have come to expect it, especially since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. We now expect these abhorrent laws, and to see “Voter Fraud is a Felony!” billboards in black neighborhoods. The genius of their persistence is that we get used to this nonsense.

It is why we are failing, as a country, to show concern about what is happening in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina right now. The voter disenfranchisement on display in these three states is an extension of broader Republican efforts to reject the will of those citizens who vote in ways they don’t like, the same people who are most likely to block their path to power in future elections. The devil takes many forms, as does voter suppression.

Mark Harris, a Baptist preacher who considers Islam to be “Satanic,” won May’s GOP primary for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. After the November 6th general election, the Associated Press prematurely called the race in his favor. Leading by a mere 905 votes over his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, Harris’ win seemed close but certain. However, the state’s Board of Elections has twice refused to certify the victory, citing irregularities with absentee ballots. The board may order a new election on December 21st when it meets to review the mounting evidence that Harris and his campaign engaged in illegal activity that disproportionately affected voters of color.

Further reporting revealed suspicious vote counts favoring Harris in certain counties with large numbers of unreturned ballots. Both Popular Information and WSOC reporter Joe Bruno then revealed on Monday that Harris’ campaign used (and possibly paid) workers to collect ballots, many of which were never returned. The mere act of “harvesting” is against the law in North Carolina — something that apparently didn’t trouble L. McCrae Dowless, Jr., the Harris campaign political consultant and convicted felon who is most directly linked to the illegal ballot collections. Harris did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

If these allegations are true, we now have an example of a Republican not just committing election fraud, but resorting to a form of organized crime to help the party hold onto a House seat. What is happening in Wisconsin and Michigan, though, is nothing less than a defecation on democracy.

In those states, there is no question who won. Voters in both Wisconsin and Michigan elected Democrats to take over for their appalling Republican governors: Tony Evers to replace the anti-labor villain Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Gretchen Whitmer to oust Flint disaster architect Rick Snyder in Michigan. Yet the Republican-led state legislatures in both states were kept in power by gerrymandered districts. Democrats netted nearly 200,000 more votes in Wisconsin last month, but state Republicans increased their slight senate majority and walked away with 63 of the 99 assembly seats. A Michigan ballot proposal to reign in partisan redistricting passed in November, but Republicans still retained majorities in both houses.

Now, Republicans in Wisconsin have just passed legislation that amounts to an assault on the state’s rule of law. It will strip Evers of powers that he doesn’t even have yet. It will prevent the new governor and the incoming state Attorney General, Democrat Josh Kaul, from withdrawing from litigation against the Affordable Care without the permission of the Republican majority. The measure also usurps Kaul’s job, giving many of his powers to the state legislative branch. Consider a state law unconstitutional? The Republicans in the statehouse will not only be able to intervene and prevent the attorney general from settling any claims — a provision will allow them to “retain legal counsel other than the Department of Justice.” The state’s top lawyer has essentially been fired before he even takes the job, without the say of the plurality of voters who hired him to represent their interests.

Wisconsin has an incoming Democratic trifecta: Evers and Kaul will join a re-elected secretary of state, Douglas La Follette, who is a victim of a similar power grab. In a state with rampant voter suppression, outgoing governor Scott Walker cut La Follette’s staff from 50 to one and stuck his office in the basement. The bills Republicans just passed will help neuter that office in a different way— slashing early voting schedules again, a move that was blocked in 2016 by a federal district judge who concluded that doing so discriminated on the basis of race. Now that Trump has five reliable enablers of voter suppression on the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps Wisconsin’s GOP is willing to give this another shot. They are also trying to move a state Supreme Court election in 2020, despite there being no need to do so. As journalist Mark Joseph Stern argued, this is designed to discourage voter turnout and prevent a liberal takeover of the body.

Wisconsin’s Republican Senate leader, Scott Fitzgerald, said the quiet part out loud in a conservative talk radio interview on Monday, calling his next governor a “lap dog” for teachers’ unions and saying that “we don’t trust Tony Evers right now.” His will, and presumably that of 17 other sitting GOP state senators, outweighs the collective will of the state that the governor is allegedly supposed to represent.

In a crack-of-the-morning vote Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Senate passed the sweeping measures by one vote, 17-16. Then the state assembly passed it, and outgoing Gov. Scott Walker will sign it into law. Lame-duck power grabs aren’t new for him, nor for Republicans nationwide. The assembly’s Republican speaker, Robin Vos, defended this by saying that he was sticking up for the voters in his district. “Where I live, people have said do whatever you have to do to make sure the reforms that have been positive for Wisconsin don’t go away,” he said via the assembly’s Twitter a day before the vote.

This mirrors what North Carolina Republicans pulled in 2016, seeking to limit the powers of Democrat Roy Cooper after voters elected him governor that year. Michigan saw that blueprint, and as the state welcomes its own Democratic trifecta — the first in 28 years — Republicans there have proposed new measures that would neuter the incoming governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Protecting unconstitutional measures, such as one that allows adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, is taking priority over that will of the voter we hear so much about.

Voter suppression is not merely about gerrymandering, closing polling places and requiring IDs to shape an electorate. It is a declaration that only Republicans are allowed to run things, even when the voters say otherwise, and that any challenges to their power are invalid. We worry, rightfully, about what Trump does and will do to our democracy. He soils it with his lies about undocumented voting and his encouragement of intimidation at the polls. But the embarrassment of his “voter fraud” panel demonstrated that he is actually rather ineffective at suppressing votes. Trump is a small man, but that isn’t why this is bigger than him. When it comes to protecting Republican power for themselves and their shrinking white electorate, the real pros are at the state level.

Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to reflect that Democrat Roy Cooper was elected governor of North Carolina in 2016. We regret the error.

The United Free

Published  2 months ago

We thought we’d seen the last of disgraced former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe when he was fired for telling multiple lies to multiple investigators looking into his actions in conjunction with…

New York Post

Published  2 months ago

If media wants to challenge the context and politics of Republican arguments, that’s their prerogative. There are plenty of legitimately misleading statements worthy of fact-checkers’ attention. Yet, with a veneer of impartiality, fact-checkers often engage in a uniquely dishonest style of partisanship. And State of Union coverage gave us an abundance of examples of how they do it:

Hyper-precision fact-checking that creates the impression that a Republican is misleading the public: For this, take Politico’s insinuation that Donald Trump was lying to the public about abuse of women at the border. During the State of the Union, Trump claimed: “one in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.” This contention is only “partly true,” according to Politico, because a “2017 report by Doctors Without Borders” found that only 31 percent of female migrants and 17 percent of male migrants said they had been actually abused while traveling through Mexico.

Whether Doctors Without Borders’ scary statistic is accurate or not, is one thing. Trump, however, was being called out for asserting that “one in every three” illegal immigrants has been abused attempting to cross the border rather than “33.333 percent of women” — probably a rounding error in the poll. It is almost surely the case that every past president and every politician has used “one-third” or “one-half” rather than a specific fraction, and walked away without being fact-checked.

Fact-checking subjective political assertions: The New York Times provided a masterclass in bad faith fact-checking by taking political contentions offered by the president and subjecting them to a supposed impartial test of accuracy. In his speech, Trump called the illegal border crossing “an urgent national crisis.” The New York Times says “this is false.” Why? Because illegal border crossings have been declining for two decades, they say. Customs and Border Protection agents, they go on to explain, had arrested around 50,000 people trying to illegally cross the southwestern border each of the last three months, which was only half of the arrests they had made in comparable months in the mid-2000s.

Even if those numbers are correct, there is no way to fact-check urgency. After all, a lessening crisis doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a pressing one. We’ve seen a steep decline in gun violence over the past 30 years. Would The New York Times ever “fact-check” a Democrat who argued that gun violence was an “urgent crisis” of public safety? Of course not. But this fluctuating standard allows journalists to “fact-check” any subjective political contention they desire.

If I claim that socialism is the greatest threat to American freedom and prosperity, I may well be right. I may have a lot of historical and economic evidence to back up my assertion. You can argue that I’m wrong. You can lay out statistics that attempt to prove me wrong. You can call me crazy. But you can’t produce an unbiased “fact-check” establishing that my opinion is conclusively false. You’re just writing an op-ed piece.

Partisan talking point masquerading as a fact check: “FACT CHECK: President Trump praised the record number of women in Congress, but that’s almost entirely because of Democrats, not Trump’s party,” NPR tweeted, correcting the record on a statement that the president never made.

Here’s what Trump said: “And exactly one century after Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before. That’s great. Very great. And congratulations. That’s great.”

You can’t produce an unbiased “fact-check” establishing that my opinion is conclusively false. You’re just writing an op-ed piece.

Trump was offering his rundown on the state of the union, not the Republican Party. It’s true that presidents take credit for all the good things that happen under their watch. Trump is no exception. In this rare case, however, Trump didn’t even take credit for electing the female politicians. In fact, he congratulated them after they broke out into cheers over his comment. Some people have argued that NPR’s piece was providing context to the president’s comment. Perhaps. Still, their nitpicking created the impression that somehow Trump had misled the public. He did not.

Fact-checking meant to obscure actual facts: The Washington Post’s fact-checking page offered a number of egregious examples of outright misinformation. In one of them, reporter Meg Kelly claimed that, “Abortion legislation in New York wouldn’t do what Trump said.” There are a number of words in her post intimating that Trump lied about the New York and Virginia late-term abortion bills, but none of her words debunk Trump’s core contention. Ramesh Ponnuru has a good rundown here.

Here’s what Trump said: “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”

As I’ve noted before, the biggest clue that you’re about to read a deceptive fact check on the abortion issue is an author mentioning that “only” few abortions of viable babies take place. “Indeed,” Kelly writes, “only 1.3 percent of abortions — or about 8,500 a year — take place at or after 21 weeks, according to 2014 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Guttmacher Institute.” This number, as Ponnuru points out, is almost surely low. Whatever the case, Trump never claimed “most” abortions were post-20 weeks. Whether 8,500 or 15,000, thousands of viable babies are being aborted. No fact-checker would ever point out that only .0001 percent of legal gun owners commit crimes when talking about more firearm restrictions (and, yes, that’s an approximation).

And yes, the president used a bit of rhetorical flourish to say that babies can be “ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth” because, actually, they can be poisoned or dismembered in the mother’s womb moments before birth. Both the Virginia bill, which was tabled, and the New York law allow, just as Trump says (in his blunt language), for the termination of infants who survive the abortion procedure. Absolutely nothing in The Post’s “fact check” debunks the president’s contention that in New York, and elsewhere, abortion on demand until crowning (and after) is now legal as long as the woman and a doctor decide that the baby is stressful in some way to the mother. How often it happens is up for debate. What the bill says is inarguable.

Fact-checking a truthful statement by demanding that Trump highlight information that has absolutely nothing to do with his contention: An astute reader points out this PBS fact-check of a Trump tweet from a couple of weeks ago. I’ve noticed this genre, as well. In it, the president points out that a reputable Marist/NPR/PBS Poll had shown that his approval rating among Latinos had risen to 50 percent, an increase of 19 percent over a year’s time. After confirming that, yes, Trump had been precise in his assertion regarding their poll, PBS spends around 700 words taking Trump to task for failing to highlight other negative information in the poll. Will this be a new standard for all politicians?

The state of American fact-checking is dreadfully misleading. There’s no reason for conservatives to give its authors the deference they seek.

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the new book, “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today.” Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi

The Federalist

Published  2 months ago

From unrestricted late-term abortion to infanticide, Democrats are now facing the consequences of a position that never had a limiting principle.

The Federalist

Published  4 months ago

The nomination of Jim Webb for Department of Defense would, unlike Rudy Guiliani or John Bolton, be aligned with the best of Trump's foreign policy views.


Published  5 months ago

It’s an old joke: How can you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving. It seems that may be the case for the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. Congress. An analyst at the Gatestone Institute presented evidence that Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Harbi Tlaib of Michigan lied […]

Gatestone Institute

Published  5 months ago

"Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." - Ilhan Omar, in a Tweet, November 2012. "When a politician singles out Jewish allies as 'evil,' but ignores every brutal theocratic regime in the